Primary Questions

With the U.S. House of Representatives primary election on Aug. 30 quickly approaching and a record number of candidates running for Rep. Jeff Miller’s vacated District 1 seat, Business Climate worked with the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club to bring you an issue-related and substantive Q&A with most of those seeking your vote. Six republicans and one democrat were present for the forum, which featured differences both nuanced and stark.

Greg Evers (R)
Florida Senate since 2010
Owns a small business

According to the Gallup agency, as of June 2016, Congress had a 16 percent approval rating, less than Nixon’s (24 percent) prior to his resignation. Why does Congress have such low approval and what will you do to reverse that?

Nobody likes Congress but their Congressman. You’ve got to have a Congressman who listens to the people, somebody who’s accessible. Our nation is in dire straits. We’ve got to have someone willing to stand up and say that there’s something we got to do. We have got to have a strong military, term limits, and a balanced budget, just like we have in the state of Florida. When that is accomplished, we will have a country that continues to be the greatest nation in the world.

How important is support for Israel in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism?

When I was five years old, my grandmother told me that the United States will support Israel, because if they fall, we fall. That’s been instilled in me ever since. Israel is very talented at going in and taking care of the issues over there. If we support Israel, we won’t have a problem.

Should we drill offshore?

Protect the military mission, work for energy independence, and safely drill on federal lands. There’s no need to drill in the Gulf when we can drill in Blackwater Forest.

Do you support another round of BRAC?

For the first three years, I would not support BRAC. I would look at and establish what the criteria was. As long as it protects the military bases in District 1, I would support cutting wasteful spending.

What do you see as the future mission of the US military?

Number one, keep us safe and keep ISIS out. We have been invaded on our soil. We don’t need to be the world’s innkeepers. We do need to stamp out oppression throughout the world and protect our borders.

The CBO estimates that $1,000 of cuts need to be made to each American to stabilize the debt. How do you propose to stabilize the debt?

We need to put America back into productivity. Bring the manufacturing back from overseas. Your economy will grow and you will not have to raise taxes. You also have to start with a zero-based budget. There were no giveaways. You started with a blank piece of paper and tracked where every dollar went for the state of Florida.

If you abolish the IRS, how do you plan to finance the government?

Abolish the IRS, set up an auditing system within the Treasury Department with about one tenth the amount of people.


Steven Specht (D)
USAF veteran
Lives in Pensacola with his wife

According to the Gallup agency, as of June 2016, Congress had a 16 percent approval rating, less than Nixon’s (24 percent) prior to his resignation. Why does Congress have such low approval and what will you do to reverse that?

I think the first thing is Congress needs to reassert its Constitutional duties. When we go to war, we give the President carte blanche to go to war, but those duties are Congress’s, and that’s just an example. We need to recapture all of our responsibilities.

How important is support for Israel in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism?

It was said that Israel has a right to defend itself. Every nation has that right. We give them $3 billion annually of American tax dollars. I think we deserve more for that money. Now, Israel took land from Jordan and Egypt in 1967 and that is the land that the Palestinians are currently living in. They live in the world’s largest military blockade. We have had opportunities for a two-state solution, but we’ve got to put a little more check on the money we’re sending them.

Should we drill offshore?

Energy independence is a huge national security issue. The danger of modern nuclear reactors is much less than they used to be. There’s a trillion dollar industry out there that doesn’t put our shores at risk.

Do you support another round of BRAC?

There are inefficiencies in the military, so I would support it. We’ve got to let the military make the decisions though. Let’s look at weapons of war instead of bases.

What do you see as the future mission of the US military?

The biggest takeaway from Iraq is we can’t go it alone. That being said, anytime we send our troops overseas, we need to consider three things: one, is there an identifiable national security threat; two, do we have a clear plan of action; three, do we have an endgame in mind?

The CBO estimates that $1,000 of cuts need to be made to each American to stabilize the debt. How do you propose to stabilize the debt?

I’ve got to reject the premise. The deficit has fallen from $1.5 trillion from just over $400 billion. Our economy is growing and we’re shirking the budget. I want to pay back the education system and the infrastructure. We should be willing to raise taxes on people who make over $100,000 a year.

If you abolish the IRS, how do you plan to finance the government?

I don’t plan on abolishing the IRS. It needs reform, but the Constitution provides for taxation. Even if you move to a fair tax, you still have to have an agency to collect it.


Rebekah Johansen-Bydlak (R)
9th Generation Escambian
Leader in Coalition to Reduce Spending

According to the Gallup agency, as of June 2016, Congress had a 16 percent approval rating, less than Nixon’s (24 percent) prior to his resignation. Why does Congress have such low approval and what will you do to reverse that?

There’s 19 trillion reasons why Congress is unpopular. There’s a lot of lax attitudes towards our responsibilities. We don’t even pass budgets anymore. The military can’t plan anymore because they don’t know where their money is coming from. Agencies can’t cut because that’s not incentivized. What I can do is reassert the Constitutional role of Congress. The President is not king; Congress has a role of a deliberative body. We need to take a look at the rules of the game, because they don’t favor the type of cuts we really need.

How important is support for Israel in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism?

We have an increasingly dangerous world. For the past eight years, we’ve seen a President that doesn’t believe that and thinks he can lecture his way out of trouble. Israel is our greatest ally in the region, and we need to support them unequivocally. My first job as a member of Congress will be to take the powers outlined in Article 1 Section 8 that we have too often acquiesced to the President who thinks he’s king. We see the consequences when he acts unilaterally without a thought to the consequences. We also need to listen to our generals. We have to follow and fully fund our path to victory.

Should we drill offshore?

It’s hard to think about this without thinking of the oil spill of 2010. It is a complicated issue, and it’s not as simple as yes or no. We should never say never, but I will say never to crony projects or regulations that strangle our business development or anything that endangers our military.

Do you support another round of BRAC?

They are the backbone of our district and I would defend them to the best of my ability. We’ve got politicians who don’t care making these decisions, and there are real-world consequences to thinking they know better than our military men and women.

What do you see as the future mission of the US military?

The job of the military is pretty straightforward: to defend the people. My first job as a member of Congress is to do that. We can’t do that without a clearly defined endgame and without involving Congress.

The CBO estimates that $1,000 of cuts need to be made to each American to stabilize the debt. How do you propose to stabilize the debt?

When you come off of all-time highs, of course the deficit is going to fall. When you look at the CBO report, it becomes clear that you cannot tax your way out of this. I am not for taxing hard-working Americans. The Government Accountability Office releases a report every year that shows how billions of cuts can be made.

If you abolish the IRS, how do you plan to finance the government?

You certainly have to have an agency, but not an agency with an arsenal of weapons to destroy people’s lives.


James Zumwalt (R)
Served two tours in Iraq
Awarded Bronze Star medal

According to the Gallup agency, as of June 2016, Congress had a 16 percent approval rating, less than Nixon’s (24 percent) prior to his resignation. Why does Congress have such low approval and what will you do to reverse that?

The situation in the Middle East is extremely complex. You hear people saying, “We need to take the fight to ISIS.” Well we need people who know how to get that done. The key to defeating ISIS is finding the allies on the ground—Iraqi Kurds. They’re the only democratically minded folks there. They provided support to the Sunnis and the Shiites, and they’re the only ones willing to take the fight ISIS It’s very important that we understand who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.

Should we drill offshore?

No, absolutely not. Right now, there’s a military mission line that divides the Gulf north-south. Forty percent of our local GDP is military-related. If you get rid of that military mission line, and thus provide rigs to drill offline, we’re going to start demoting one of the most fundamental aspects of our local economy. It also has an impact on our tourism industry. You don’t want rigs camped out on our shore.

Do you support another round of BRAC?

We have very vital missions to our national defense infrastructure here. We need to address and protect these missions in Northwest Florida. When BRACs happen, they actually end up costing the tax payer more money. So what you do as a Congressman in Northwest Florida, you make your entire defense infrastructure BRAC-proof. You do that providing a good service of national defense that is valuable.

What do you see as the future mission of the US military?

Provide for the common defense and appropriate funds. If we were doing that, we wouldn’t have ISIS in our backyard and we wouldn’t be so in debt.

The CBO estimates that $1,000 of cuts need to be made to each American to stabilize the debt. How do you propose to stabilize the debt?

Saying that, “Hey, we only owe an additional $400 billion this year” is not a measure of success. We should just look at what our goal is: provide for defense and pass appropriations. If we have trillions of dollars in non-discretionary funds coming through each year, that’s a lack of leadership and scrutiny. Hold their feet to the fire. Let’s pass these appropriations bills. If you want specifics, Planned Parenthood, the EPA, the Department of Education, the Bureau of Land Management doesn’t need a SWAT team, do away with the IRS because they’ve been targeting conservatives, fire corrupt VA bureaucrats.

If you abolish the IRS, how do you plan to finance the government?

You aim for the stars, you’ll hit the moon. I’m a big fan of the fair and flat tax. Those plans should be discussed at least on the House floor.


Brian Frazier (R)
25 year military veteran
M.S. and M.B.A.

According to the Gallup agency, as of June 2016, Congress had a 16 percent approval rating, less than Nixon’s (24 percent) prior to his resignation. Why does Congress have such low approval and what will you do to reverse that?

We need to look in the mirror and realize that if we’re getting our own pork, so does everyone else. That’s how we wind up with a $19 trillion debt. We continue to elect unqualified people to Washington DC. Everyone wants term limits, yet we can’t get them. Elect somebody who will actually do what they say they’ll do, and if they don’t, bring them home.

How important is support for Israel in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism?

There won’t be a two-state solution. When I was in DC, we met with the ambassador, and he said that Palestine wants part of their country, and they’re not going to give it up. So whose side are we on? We don’t need to choose Hammas or the Muslim Brotherhood. We’ve got a deep problem of infiltration within our own government and our own society. We need to support Israel because they’re our only friend in the region.

Should we drill offshore?

I will support drilling in the Gulf, but not infringing on our military mission. We can drill safely out in the Gulf. Florida can decide whether it wants drilling in its state waters or not. There’s always risk, whether it’s oil or nuclear, but there’s also a lot of jobs in it.

Do you support another round of BRAC?

I would have to see the process. If it’s anything like last time, which was purely political, then I would not support. Let the generals and admirals decide. The right people have to make the decisions, and it’s not the people sitting in Congress.

What do you see as the future mission of the US military?

We have to defend our own country first, and right now there’s no one capable of defeating our country. We can’t get into these protracted conflicts or do nation-building. When our military is called into action, they need to kill people and break all their stuff.

The CBO estimates that $1,000 of cuts need to be made to each American to stabilize the debt. How do you propose to stabilize the debt?

Simple answer is, have a Constitutional government. If the federal government did what was enumerated, we wouldn’t have a debt. We’d have a surplus. Let’s not raise taxes, but I am for a fair or flat tax. No exemptions for anything. We have very simple tax brackets, but 70,000 pages of exemptions. So to answer the question, cut the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Everything should be discretionary, including unemployment and Social Security and Medicare.

If you abolish the IRS, how do you plan to finance the government?

I would abolish the IRS. It’s not the solution; it’s the problem. We can use the Department of Treasury to collect the funds.


Cris Dosev (R)
Co-Founder, Wounded Heroes Foundation
Captain, USMC

According to the Gallup agency, as of June 2016, Congress had a 16 percent approval rating, less than Nixon’s (24 percent) prior to his resignation. Why does Congress have such low approval and what will you do to reverse that?

On the one hand, people disapprove of Congress, but people actually overwhelmingly support their Congressman. So what’s the disconnect? We like the person but not the whole body. Well, the system is made this way by our Founding Fathers. The House is supposed to represent the passion of the people, and the Senate is supposed to temper that passion, but that’s not what’s happening. As a result of the Seventeenth Amendment, you have popular vote of the Senate, so there are two bodies preoccupied with passion. So if it was up to me, I would repeal the Seventeenth Amendment.

Should we drill offshore?

I’ve got a district mission line. There’s no need to drill out there. We’ve got plenty of oil and gas reserves. That beach provides countless jobs here in our community, but it also is a gem for the rest of the country. They don’t come here to see oilrigs off the coast. As a nation, we should recognize those places that value and beauty. Let’s look at where to put some nuclear power plants if there’s a real energy concern.

Do you support another round of BRAC?

If it were to prohibit pork barrel projects from Northeastern liberals, yeah I’d be for it, but I would not be for closing down any of our local bases.

What do you see as the future mission of the US military?

The role is the military is national defense and protecting our national interests. We’re not afraid of Canada or Mexico. So national defense sort of falls down the ladder of priority. National interests, on the other hand, well, we don’t know what those interests are. One minute we draw red lines, the next minute we say they’re not that red. We need consistency. Let’s define our national interests, one of which is the open communication of commerce.

The CBO estimates that $1,000 of cuts need to be made to each American to stabilize the debt. How do you propose to stabilize the debt?

Vote for a businessman named Donald Trump and have him take a look at this thing. He knows what he’s doing. We have a problem with debt and we’ve got about five or six years to get our fiscal house in order. After that, if you don’t send people to Washington with business experience to bring in these spending problems, we’re all going to be speaking Greek. I’d like to do a general sequestration aimed at 100 percent of the budget except the military.

If you abolish the IRS, how do you plan to finance the government?

I don’t see abolishing the IRS as a viable option at this moment. The country has much greater concerns. The IRS is a tax-collecting agency, though it needs to be reined in and needs to fear the Congress and the people.


Mark Wichern (R)
Teacher
Married for 17 years

According to the Gallup agency, as of June 2016, Congress had a 16 percent approval rating, less than Nixon’s (24 percent) prior to his resignation. Why does Congress have such low approval and what will you do to reverse that?

Sixteen percent is not the ultimate low; it was at its lowest in 2004. Does anyone really understand how leadership is chosen in Washington? The fact of the matter is, whoever raises the most money for their party becomes the majority leader. When our Congressmen go in there, they’re not longer accountable to us; they’re accountable to their parties. We need to call out the money system. These politicians are going across the street from Capitol Hill 70 percent of the time to fundraise. They’re not loyal to us; they’re trying to move up in leadership. I want to get in there and actually work for the people of District 1. I want to reinvest that money in the community.

How important is support for Israel in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism?

I think we have an issue with Israel. Do you realize we do not have a treaty with Israel today? We need to address that if we’re going to continue giving them money. One of the ways you find out what’s really going on, you follow the money. My concerns are, let’s see what’s really going on. Numbers don’t lie; people do.

Should we drill offshore?

One of the things we’re looking at is these are foreign companies who have no allegiance to us whatsoever. If we’re drilling, we need to have American companies doing it. Also, we need a proven method of cleaning it up when there’s a spill. I’d also like to see where the federal government has the authority in the Constitution to make these decisions. Finally, the free market needs to solve the energy crisis. It needs to be able to stand on its own and see what happens. The states need to be looking at this.

Do you support another round of BRAC?

We currently have 700 bases in 70 nations around the country. How in the world can we afford this? Let’s close the unnecessary ones overseas and open up ones in the states. Let’s open up another hundred Eglins along the Southern border and inflict some fear in the hearts of those crossing our borders. We need to stop the nation building. We have the technology to get anywhere in the world without 700 bases.

What do you see as the future mission of the US military?

We should not be worldwide policemen. We are going to soon be $21 trillion. We need to reevaluate of a lot of stuff. I want a strong military, absolutely, but we need to go back to a Constitutional government.

The CBO estimates that $1,000 of cuts need to be made to each American to stabilize the debt. How do you propose to stabilize the debt?

I’d like to start by not giving illegal immigrants benefits. I’d also like to cut the military industrial complex, but not our defense. But our big problem is really the Federal Reserve. It prints money and loans it to us at interest. It’s a private bank. We need to look at our Constitution and there’s already a budget built into it. If we did that, we would eliminate 80 percent of the government overhead.

If you abolish the IRS, how do you plan to finance the government?

We used to use tariffs and user fees to fund the government. The tax was originally set up to fund the national defense. Let’s go back to tariffs and user fees. Taxes don’t fund the U.S. government. Inflation funds the government.

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